For the first time since 2011, Tom Brady will be forced to watch the Patriot Invitational…err, AFC Championship Game on television as opposed to participating it. Something almost as rare as Haley’s Comet. However, that has not prevented him from being in the public eye this weekend. First by attending UFC 246 in Vegas and then by participating his weekly interview with Jim Gray on Westwood One prior to kickoff between Kansas City and Tennessee.
In addition to giving some solid X’s and O’s talk in advance of the two title games, Brady was asked about his impending free agency.
“I’m open-minded about the process,” Brady told Jim Gray on Westwood One. “At the same time, I love playing football and I want to continue to play and do a great job. So I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. Whatever the future may bring, I’ll embrace it with open arms. In the meantime, I’m going to watch these two games today as a fan and enjoy them from my couch.”
Of course, you can interpret this in many different ways. Plenty of outlets have already done that. In reality, Brady, as he is known to do, is saying very little except emphasizing, once again, he plans on playing next season. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone unless you have lived on a secluded island for the better part of the last decade. However, without explicitly declaring his intention to return to the Patriots, the speculation will only continue to grow as we approach March 18th. However, thinking logically, it has never made sense for either party to go their separate ways.
For the Patriots, assuming Jarrett Stidham isn’t ready to make a monumental leap, who is a better option than Brady for this team? And no, Andy Dalton of perennial double-digit interception fame is not the answer. Neither is Teddy Bridgewater. Or Eli Manning. Or Philip Rivers. The fact of the matter is that other than prying away a young franchise quarterback such as Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, there is no better option for the Patriots under center than Brady. Robert Kraft knows it. Bill Belichick knows it. There is also that small matter of a $13.5 million cap hit regardless of Brady being on the roster or not.
And, for Brady, it’s simple, there is no better situation in the NFL for him than New England. From familiarity to the opportunity to win, the Patriots have it all. Now, even if you assume Brady is back (and I do), that’s not to say they still don’t have work to do. Joe Thuney’s contract quickly comes to mind. As does what they have to do at the wide receiver and tight end position. However, given their history, that shouldn’t deter you from thinking this team is still a prime candidate to win the Super Bowl… and it starts with Brady under center.